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The material presented on this page is intended for use by journalists, court officers, the medical profession, and other interested parties among the public-at-large.
Founding date: November, 1982
First meeting: Hollywood, CA
Approximate Number of Weekly Meetings (U.S. and Canada, 1994): 2,000 (155 meetings a week were in operation in England as of Dec. 2008 with another 19 each week in Scotland)
Definition of Cocaine Anonymous
Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of recovering addicts throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries whose members meet in local groups. The following definition of “Cocaine Anonymous” is found in our Fellowship’s literature and is often read at meetings of CA:
“Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem, and help others to recover from their addiction. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. There are no dues or fees for membership; we are fully self-supporting through our own contributions. We are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. We do not wish to engage in any controversy and we neither endorse nor oppose any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay free from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances, and to help others achieve the same freedom.* We use the Twelve Steps of Recovery, because it has already been proven that the Twelve-Step recovery program works.”
*Reprinted and adapted with permission of A.A. Grapevine, Inc.
The Structure of Cocaine Anonymous
Cocaine Anonymous is not organized in the formal or political sense. There are no governing officers, no rules or regulations, no dues or fees. While we are guided by the Twelve Traditions of Cocaine Anonymous, each group is generally free to conduct its business as it sees fit, as stated in Tradition 4: “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or C.A. as a whole.”
However, the need for services to addicts throughout the world is very important to the Fellowship. Inquiries from both within and outside the Fellowship have to be answered. Literature has to be written, printed and distributed, and requests for help be followed up. The main service body of the Fellowship is C.A. World Services, which is centered at the World Service Office in Los Angeles, California. Here employees and service volunteers maintain communications with local Groups and with persons outside the Fellowship who turn to C.A. for information on the program of recovery. C.A. Conference-approved literature and chips are prepared, published and distributed through this office.
The World Service Office, through its Board of Directors, is responsible to the World Service Board of Trustees. The Trustees, who serve as custodians of the Traditions of Cocaine Anonymous, as well as interpreters of policies affecting C.A. as a whole, in turn are responsible to the World Service Conference.
The World Service Conference meets annually to unify the Fellowship and consider those actions which affect the Fellowship as a whole. Comprised of Delegates from all the recognized Areas of C.A., as well as the Trustees and the World Service Office Board, the Conference considers how best to carry the message of recovery from cocaine addiction to those outside, as well as inside, the meeting rooms of Cocaine Anonymous. Committees of the Conference cover various areas that affect carrying that message of recovery: Literature, Hospitals and Institutions, Public Information, Convention (responsible for the annual World Service Convention), and Unity. Other Committees address the internal functions of the Fellowship: Conference, Finance, and Structure & Bylaws.
All of the service structure of C.A. is based on our 9th Tradition: “C.A. as such ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”
The principal of consistent rotation of responsibility is followed in all C.A. service positions. Positions in the local Group are rotated according to a vote of the Group. Representatives to the local service organization are voted on at the Group level — according to a schedule defined by each Group. Officers of the local service organization, as well as the Conference Delegates, are elected based on the group conscience of these representatives. All such officers, delegates, and representatives serve at the pleasure of their electors.
Since its beginning, Cocaine Anonymous has affirmed a tradition of being fully self-supporting and of not accepting contributions from non-members. Expenses at the group level for rental of meeting places, coffee and refreshments, literature, etc., are met by “passing the hat.” In a majority of groups, an amount is set aside regularly for the support of the World Service Office and their local service office.
CA’s Position on the Subject of Addiction
C.A. is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of individual addicts who turn to the fellowship for help. Cocaine Anonymous does not engage in the fields of drug addiction research, medical or psychiatric treatment, drug education, or propaganda in any form — although our members may participate in such activities as individuals.
The Fellowship has adopted a policy of “cooperation but not affiliation” with outside organizations concerned with the problem of addiction. C.A. never endorses, supports, opposes, becomes affiliated with, or expresses any opinion on, the programs of others in the field of addiction. C.A. has no position on outside issues — including the legality or illegality of drugs — or any other public policy.
C.A.’s relations with professional groups, agencies, facilities, and individuals involved with the problems of drug addiction are handled by the Public Information Committee. Mutual understanding and cooperation between C.A. members and others who work with addicts are the concerns of this standing committee of the World Service Board.
Cocaine Anonymous has adopted the following as its Public Information Policy:
In all public relations, C.A.’s sole objective is to help the still-suffering addict. Always mindful of the importance of personal anonymity, we believe this can be done by making known to him and to those who may be interested in his problem, our own experience as individuals and as a Fellowship in learning to live without cocaine and all other mind-altering substances.*
We believe that our experience should be made available freely to all who express sincere interest. We believe further that all our efforts in this field should always reflect our gratitude for the gift of sobriety and our awareness that many outside C.A. are equally concerned with the serious problem of addiction.
Information and public relations matters affecting the Fellowship as a whole are the concern of the Public Information Committee of Cocaine Anonymous World Services.
Reporters are welcome at open meetings and events of C.A., with prior approval of the local service body. The only restriction is a request to bear in mind the importance of anonymity, by not disclosing the name of any C.A. member. For obvious reasons, cameras are not permitted at C.A. meetings.
In many areas, C.A. members have formed local committees on public information and cooperation with the professional community, to assist local media in obtaining accurate information about our Fellowship.
Cocaine Anonymous offers the following services to the general public:
- Speakers (in both professional and educational settings) describing our organization and its program of recovery.
- Speaker panels for addicts confined in hospitals or other closed institutions.
- Literature for both members of the professional community and their clients or patients.
- Referrals to local chapters for help with the above activities.
To contact the Public Information Chairperson directly, please Click Here
*Adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
The Importance of Anonymity
Traditionally, C.A. members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the public level: press, radio, television and films. We know from experience that many people with drug problems might hesitate to turn to C.A. for help if they thought their problems might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with complete assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship.
We believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us: It discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit, that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with addicts might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.
While each member of C.A. is free to make his or her own interpretation of a C.A. Tradition, no individual is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for themselves.
A C.A. member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since that is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole has no control over such deviations from Tradition. It is clear, however, that they do not have the approval of the group conscience of C.A. members.
Cocaine Anonymous is grateful to all media for their assistance in strengthening and observing the Tradition of anonymity. Periodically, the C.A. World Service Office sends to all major media a letter describing the Traditions and asking their support in observing it.
Cocaine Anonymous Meetings
As the term suggests, meetings of this type are open to addicts and their families and to anyone interested in solving a personal drug problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem. Direct participation, however, is usually limited to addicts.
These meetings are limited to addicts. They provide an opportunity for members to share with one another on problems related to using patterns and attempts to achieve stable sobriety.
Participants study and discuss the Twelve Steps with the group.
Participants study and discuss with the group any of these books:
Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”), Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (the
“12 and 12”), both volumes of Hope, Faith and Courage Book: Stories from the
Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous (the “C.A. Story Book”), and The A.A. Service
Manual, combined with the 12 Concepts for World Service.
This type of meeting involves one or two sober members voluntarily sharing their thoughts and feelings at length.
This type of meeting involves individuals voluntarily sharing their thoughts and feelings with each other.
H&I meetings are often restricted to patients or residents only, and not open to the community as a whole. These meetings are brought into facilities by local C.A. members through the H&I committee. H&I meetings are basically beginners meetings; with the chairperson of each meeting providing speakers. They are not usually listed in the area or world directory; and they do not observe the 7th Tradition. Certain facilities may require H&I participants to be subject to sobriety requirements, dress and conduct codes.
These meetings are limited to addicts, and allow our members anywhere in the world to share their experience, strength and hope with each other at www.ca-online.org.
Variations and/or combinations of these meetings exist.